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They shoot donkeys, don't they?

Over the last six months, I've watched countless gory videos of Arab protesters (and sometimes children) who have been beaten to death, shot in the head, run over with tanks, or otherwise brutalized by their own governments. And yet, for reasons that I can't quite fathom, few scenes have disturbed me as much as this one, said to be of Syrian soldiers gunning down a group of donkeys in cold blood:

Syrians on Twitter tell me that the reason for this seemingly senseless slaughter is to punish villagers for supporting the protest movement by taking away their means of survival. If so, it's a particularly nasty form of collective punishment -- gunning down a bunch of innocent, helpless animals.

The Syrian revolution has been going through a rough patch lately, with little fresh movement to isolate Bashar al-Assad's regime and what look to be smaller protests inside the country. The exiled opposition can't seem to get its act together and organize a united front, while activists inside the country are calling desperately for international protection of some kind as dozens of them continue to be killed, injured, or rounded up each day.

It would be bitterly ironic if it took the murder of a few donkeys to summon the global sense of outrage that greeted Bashar's Ramadan crackdown. But then again, the world works in strange ways sometimes.

Passport

Apple removes app that illustrates iPhone's global supply chain

According to a number of blogs, for a brief period today there was an app/game available in Apple's iTunes store illustrating some of the more controversial aspects of the iPhone's supply chain. Here a description from the website of producer MolleIndustria:

Phone Story is a game for smartphone devices that attempts to provoke a critical reflection on its own technological platform. Under the shiny surface of our electronic gadgets, behind its polished interface, hides the product of a troubling supply chain that stretches across the globe. Phone Story represents this process with four educational games that make the player symbolically complicit in coltan extraction in Congo, outsourced labor in China, e-waste in Pakistan and gadget consumerism in the West.

Keep Phone Story on your device as a reminder of your impact. All of the revenues raised go directly to workers' organizations and other non-profits that are working to stop the horrors represented in the game.

Remarkably, the game made it past Apple's initial review, but was removed today. Kyle Orland at Gamasutra writes:  

But shortly after the game was announced and made available for purchase on the App Store earlier this morning, MolleIndustria tweeted that it had been removed for violating four separate app store review guidelines (as noticed by sister site IndieGames.com).

The cited guidelines prohibit apps that "depict violence or child abuse," "present objectionable or crude content," "contain false, fraudulent of misleading representations" or fail to "comply with all legal requirements."

Maybe they could produce a spin-off for Android market, where the requirements are less stringent? It's not like Apple's the only company using African coltan and FoxConn labor to make its phones. 

Hat Tip: Several folks via Twitter